by Chloe Binkley
Benjamin House Ministries Summer 2019 Intern
Some names have been changed for the privacy of those whose stories we are honored to share.
Benjamin House Ministries is an organization that values relationships, encourages discipleship, and works passionately at reuniting families. Over the past few weeks, I have had the honor and joy of being a next-door neighbor to four incredible young boys: Jimmy, Nathan, Kevin, and Musa. They are a part of BHM’s family restoration initiative, which strives to reunite young boys from the streets with their families. This team looks at children the way that Jesus looks at me and you—with hope, with immense love, and with a passion to help them reach their full potential. This is a brief testimony provided by the four boys living in the transitional home with whom I had the chance to talk. I am obliged to observe that their stories always point back to the Lord, and that these boys were eager to share how the Lord is working through each one of them.
I want to thank Jesus for His persistent love, His continuous grace, and for never cutting our stories short. He doesn’t leave empty pages blank, or let us end on a cliff-hanger, but brings closure, peace, and certainty to His beloved children. I thank Jesus for these boys and how He never sees a lost cause, but rather individuals who needed Him in a time of extreme uncertainty. These circumstances of instability are where the story of Nathan and Jimmy begins.
Nathan was incredibly willing to share his story, and I pray that I am able to do it justice. Nathan and Jimmy are brothers from Luwero, Uganda. Their father lacked the finances to pay school fees, so the boys did not initially receive education. I believe that even during this season of their lives, Jesus was working, preparing their hearts for what was to come. One day, while their father was at work, a man from their village entered their home and kidnapped the boys. There were four children in the family in total, but only Nathan and Jimmy were taken. Once he had captured Nathan and Jimmy, among several other boys in the village, the kidnapper took them back to his home. He forced the boys to do unimaginable sexual acts for his benefit. He even used the kids as accomplices in committing theft from a bank. The boys made the brave decision to run away as he was formulating future plans. For two days, all on-foot, they walked all the way to Kampala, the nation’s capital. Along the way, the boys collected metal in order to fund the expense of basic survival. On their first night after escaping, there were street boys who robbed them of all of their belongings. Whenever the boys searched for more money, elders beat them and took what little they had. This was their story for far too long, but in the waiting, God had a plan already in motion.
Cosmas, one of BHM’s social workers, was making frequent visits on the streets when he noticed the boys. He took their photos and assured them that he would return later that week.
Nathan, Musa, Jimmy, and Kevin leaving the streets.
Jimmy, Nathan, Kevin, and Musa arriving at the Transitional Homes for the first time.
The next Monday, Cosmas, Joakim, and Abraham arrived at the streets to pick them up. He went through an extensive process in order to be granted a letter of authentication from the Local Chairman (LC) to take the boys into their care.
Nathan eagerly explained that once he reached Benjamin House, things were good. I think that this word, "good," was not part of their vocabulary prior to that day. They were quickly shown love, given fresh clothes that fit them, and provided more food than they could have previously imagined. But above all else, they were shown Jesus Christ—they were shown the vast love that the Father has for His sons. It is impossible to believe that such a God exists when one hears testimonies such as this. How could a loving and merciful God allow such tragedy to take place in the lives of innocent children? If the story ended there, then this narrative of a Father in heaven who does not take care of us would be an easy one to believe. But praise be to God that He takes our broken past and uses it for His glory.
Musa was more hesitant to share, but his story still deserves to be told. His living situation at home was not a good one. It is common in Ugandan cultures for a step-mother to be reluctant towards caring for a step-child. Like other children in Uganda, this was Musa’s reality. His step-mother used to threaten to pour hot water on him without explanation or reasoning. She did not see what Jesus sees when He looks at Musa. He used to be a Muslim, but by the grace of God, He is now a born-again Christian.
Imagine being a part of a family that did not see your worth. Knowing Musa, it is hard to imagine him enduring such a past. His heart is so pure, he loves to serve others, and is quick to show love to new faces. Despite his past circumstances, Musa always greets me with a huge smile, quickly followed by, “Auntie Chloe, how are you?” This is how Christ wants us to be—warm, loving, and a lot like Musa.
Lastly, let me share the story of Kevin—one of redemption and Jesus’ grace. As a child, he had a weakness of stealing. It was something that he struggled with, but he eventually let go of the bad habit. One day, his neighbors accused him of stealing money and threatened to call his father. The neighbors told Kevin they'd advise his father to beat him. Although this was a habit he had broken long ago, Kevin was fearful that his father wouldn’t believe him, so he left for the city. He slept on the streets and found a group of boys with which he surrounded himself. They noticed he was new to the area, and helped him find bags (like potato sacks) in which he would sleep. They stayed on the move, collecting bags, picking plastics to sell, and finding ways to make as much money as they could. At night, there were others who would pester the boys for the money they had collected. Even if they denied having any, they would be beaten anyway. The money taken from Kevin and his friends was supposed to go toward their next meal. So once again, they started to look for plastics. Fortunately, there is another ministry that BHM works closely with which has already been established on the streets. The boys informed Kevin they would be eating dinner there and staying in their facilities. So, they snuck Kevin in and took care of him in that place. That next day, Cosmas went to the streets alone. He interviewed a few of the boys, took their names, and then promised to come back and take them to Benjamin House. Upon Cosmas’ return, he noticed that the boys had fled due to fear and only Kevin remained. His name was never on the list, he was never supposed to get in the car and leave with Cosmas, but by the grace of God He allowed Kevin to enter the transitional home. This is a testament of the glory of God and His goodness. This shows how He intercedes for His children and only wants what is best for us.
These boys will be the first to tell you how much their lives have improved since coming to Benjamin House. They recognize that it is not by any act of man that they are part of such a wonderful place but are quick to give the glory to God. Having been at Benjamin House for the past three months, the boys are full of joy and are excited to be reunited with family members who are eagerly awaiting their return. Since they have been in the transitional home, the boys say they are eating comfortably, food is always available, they can shower as they please, and love is shown to them every single day. The boys learn so much from each other. Paul and Musa admire Kevin’s ability to speak English so well. Paul said that he admired Musa because he is “fat.” This comment, among others, was followed by an uproar of laughter. They all agree that by being in this home at the same time, it has grown them closer to the Lord and therefore closer to each other.
Abraham and Phionah are the fearless leaders who act as parents to the boys. Nathan says that because of their leadership and love, he now knows the power and importance of prayer. He knows how to show love to his friends with intentionality. He says when he arrived, his view on the world was so negative, but because of their hospitality he now knows the truth and is seeking to change his life. Musa says that he now knows how to work. If someone makes a mistake, they are openly told in a way that exhibits mercy, a true reflection of Jesus. Kevin says he has been taught of how there is a time for everything—work, play, prayers. Obedience is an important lesson he has learned, and that he can now obey commands. I believe that the Lord intentionally placed each boy under the supervision of BHM to allow them a glimpse of what heaven will be like—a place of acceptance, continuous mercy, and unconditional love.
I want to encourage you all to join me in prayer as these boys prepare to return home. Pray for Nathan and the relationship he is hoping to regain with his father. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through him as he asks for his father’s forgiveness. Pray for Jimmy as he hopes to be in the top of his class, and Kevin who hopes to be number two in his class (this comment was also followed by immediate laughter). Pray for Musa and that the Lord would bless him with wisdom and good grades in his studies. These boys have very real dreams and want to make a difference in their country. These dreams start at home and are nurtured by supportive friends and family. Pray for their hearts, too, that Jesus would allow their homes to be receptive to the message of good news they will bring. Nathan’s prayer is that God would bless BHM and for it to develop at high speeds. He wants more children to be brought into the transitional homes, and that they would know the real truth and change as a result. Musa’s prayer is that more sponsors would come to support Benjamin House. He wants many kids like himself to be helped and prays that once they arrive to the transitional homes, they should behave well and be positive. Jimmy prays boldly for BHM to simply be well. Kevin’s prayer is that God may help BHM to get more money for transitional homes. They confidently ask these things in Jesus’ name, knowing He will make a way where there is none.
I want you to all know that this is not a sales pitch. This is not a scheme to simply take your money, make an empty promise, and never hear of a situation being solved. This is a story of four real boys with real testimonies. They are sons of the King who were given a chance, and because of people like you, were given a fresh start. It is because of their holy God that they were rescued from their circumstances and now confidently live a life of freedom and of love. I want to thank God for who they are, the humility that I have learned from them, and their hearts which are full of hope.
by Bucky Rogers
Benjamin House Ministries Founder and Executive Director
As I’m sitting here, coordinating our sponsored kids going back to school, signing those checks, double checking the lists, and praying over the names, I am both excited and frustrated. For these, now over 300, kids, this week has meant going back to school with excitement and hope. But if I were to look to my right or left right now, at this very moment, I could count another dozen who will not be getting that opportunity.
I am tempted, honestly, for us to set a goal of how many kids we want in sponsorship, how many transitional homes we want to complete, how many schools and churches we will one day build, how many pastors we desire to train, and how many families we see graduate from our program because they are now self-sufficient…but I can’t. When I ask myself the question of how many is enough, I can’t answer my own question. Why? Because it’s never going to be enough.
We recently launched our third sponsorship region: Nangabo. So, now we have Katanga (the slum downtown), Ntinda (caring mostly for kids of families who are low wage earners on the outskirts of the city), and Nangabo. Nangabo is the area where Julie, our family, and I live. It’s far from the city and very much a village context. Some of these families have no power and walk very far to fetch water to boil for drinking each day. School is the farthest thing from some of their minds because income is next to impossible. Until…you. Because our BHM supporters are so incredible and we continue to see growth in both our ministry giving and our sponsorships, we have been able to bring hope into this village.
Excitement is building as more and more kids and families are being affected by sponsorship in Nangabo. And we have you to thank for that. Thank you for continuing to sacrifice to see that these kids get a chance at a future and the hope of the Gospel.
We will stop when we know we have done enough. But it’s never going to be enough this side of heaven.
Thanks for digging in and standing with us!
Bucky and Julie
by Chloe Binkley
Benjamin House Ministries Summer 2019 Intern
Let me preface by saying I am not a writer and have never been great at constructing eloquent sentences or coherent thoughts. But, my prayer is that these words would be guided by the Holy Spirit, and that the Lord would be glorified through each and every person and ministry mentioned in this testimony. This team deserves more than the mere superlatives I will be granting them, but I write to share that they know their identity lies in Christ and to show that they are serving Him with their whole hearts.
The Lord does not assign us all the same spiritual gifts. He does not equip us to be independent bodies with independent minds and a closed heart. The Lord calls for community; He calls those who are the least of these to expand and glorify His kingdom. The Benjamin House team is the quintessential embodiment of what it means to serve the Lord with all that we have -- body, mind, and heart. The short time I have spent with these individuals has truly blessed my life, and I cannot wait to learn more about the Lord and His goodness through each one of them.
The nature of the Lord is shown through each and every one of the staff. He has handpicked them, equipped them each with an exceptional set of gifts, and uses their personal testimonies to represent Christ on earth. They are ordinary people loved and called by an extraordinary Lord. They have been divinely ordained to serve the Lord with Benjamin House Ministries. No matter where their calling lies, they serve the Lord with their whole heart by advocating for those who are voiceless, by going above and beyond what their job requires of them and are motivated by the Spirit. Their intentions are pure, and they love with no agenda.
Let me begin with the Rogers family -- they have allowed my friend Alli and I to enter their lives, serve alongside them, and have truly made me feel so welcome. When I think of them, I immediately know what it means to feel like you are part of a community. Their home is one of love, thanksgiving, mercy, and hospitality. They are servants of the Lord, and I cannot stress to you enough how much they radiate God’s goodness.
Gloria is a woman whom I have had the pleasure to get to know the past few weeks. She not only serves the Rogers’ family and assists with day to day tasks, but you can find her actively pursuing ministry any way she can. Whether she is tending to my sickness (which occurs frequently), making meals for the family, or is volunteering her time in Katanga, she does each with a smile on her face. She is genuine, but more than that, she looks at every interaction as a chance to shine the Lord’s goodness. I constantly remind her of her servant’s heart, to which she gracefully declines. She is the portrayal of love which Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Frank is another dear friend that I have grown close to. He has the high calling of working with kids in several slums throughout Kampala. I have witnessed the Holy Spirit work through him by his interactions with children, the way he looks out for me and Alli, and his sense of humor that radiates the joy of the Lord. He lives simply and maintains a modest essence. When he serves, he gives all he has. There are some acts of service which pursue an earthly agenda. It can seem hard to notice someone who exemplifies unconditional love, but Frank is the kind of person who pursues others just as Jesus pursues you and me. He talks to the kids as if every word is a chance to show the love of Jesus. He serves quietly as we are called to do in Matthew 6: 1-2: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in Heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” And alongside of that, the kids trust him. That’s the thing about the BHM staff -- they value relationships. They value consistency. They want continual investment in the lives of the young, knowing full well they are the future of their church and their nation.
This leads me to yet another fearless leader on staff named Jackson. I had the pleasure of getting to know him over the course of a two-day Sunday School Conference. He presented his plans of restoration all while maintaining the goal of the House Church: to be a place of disciples making disciples. Jackson specializes in children, and this is evident with the childlike personality He has himself. If you know Jackson, you know what it means to confidently trust the Lord without disbelief. He has recently been struggling with Sunday School and a lack of staff. Never once has he cast judgement on teachers not being able to attend, but instead uses it as an opportunity to invest in the lives of those who are called to serve. The scripture that comes to me when I think about Jackson is found in Matthew 18: 3-5: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives me.” I think this is the reason Jackson is so full of delight. He humbles himself to that of a child, and because of this, the Lord overfills Jackson’s cup with joy! He is always authentically himself, and that’s what he is teaching the children in Sunday School -- to be the person God created them to be. In doing so, true disciple making is possible.
There are many more the Lord has blessed me with knowing since I have been in Uganda, and I cannot wait to dive into their stories! God is so good, and He is intentional with the ministry and works of His people. Let me assure you that the staff here at Benjamin House wear their hearts on their sleeves. They clothe themselves every morning with the garments of compassion, empathy, and a love that pursues the Lord and others. Never have I seen such devotion to the Lord like I have seen the past few weeks in this team!
Bucky Rogers, Benjamin House staff, and short-term missionaries